Simulations of neutrons in extensive air showers
July 25, 2023
The neutron cloud of an air shower differs significantly from its well-studied electromagnetic and muonic shower components.
Neutrons are the only neutral hadrons that are stable on the time scales of air showers.
Due to their neutrality, the energy losses of neutrons are minimal at low energies.
Combined with their stability on the time scales of air showers, these make them highly abundant at the ground.
However, they are difficult to detect and simulate due, in part, to the low energies involved.
We present results based on the FLUKA simulation package, which accurately describes the propagation and production of neutrons from the highest energies down to thermal ones.
By comparing the resulting energy spectra, arrival times, and lateral distributions with those of muons, we highlight the abundance of neutrons and their importance in air showers.
Finally, we investigate the possibility of using neutrons as additional tracers of hadronic interactions in air showers and the implications of their measurement for testing hadronic interaction models.
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